In the past year, I’ve become fairly active on LinkedIn; though I have yet to contribute much content of my own, I’ve become an avid consumer of business- and professionally-focused articles and threads.
This morning, as I pulled up the daily digest, I was immediately drawn to this sensational headline: “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media”. Now, as a 24-year-old aspiring social media guru, I was alarmed and intrigued; the entry-level job market is already relatively small for individuals of my age. What are today’s decision-makers hearing about workers in my demographic? Are new grads lacking specific technical skills? How can these be developed? Perhaps the problem is research skills–what should businesses be looking for?
I usually find Hollis Thomases’s articles concise and informative, but today I was disappointed. Great: another tired, ageist reframing of solid but common-sense advice. I don’t mean to single out Ms. Thomases here, but I’ve seen this rhetoric before, and I am not impressed. I’m going to sum up in 2 quick phrases the substantive arguments so insultingly and tediously packaged in this article:
1) evaluate new hires for their fit to the competencies of the job
2) research social media strategy, like any business strategy, before applying it to your business
A few thoughts for Ms. Thomases:
I appreciate that young business owners may not be the target demographic for a firm that emphasizes experience and competence over the more typical “young and fresh” approach to social media strategy. Here’s the problem: some “new grads” may, in fact, hold decision-making positions earlier than you think. They may not feel ready to “enter adulthood and settle down,” but they may be quite confident in their ability to recognize smug rhetoric and influence your professional reputation. They may also remember who capitalized on “kids-these-days” antagonism to promote a business that had already established credibility by multiple means. Don’t overstate the influence of age on competence. Don’t alienate the young.
Every young small business operator I know who launched themselves into the big scary world of social network marketing now definitely appreciates the power of a systematic and informed approach to online promotion. They all literally spent years developing their network marketing strategies; making mistakes and cleaning them up. These individuals know the value of building online marketing and advertising capacity, but their ventures simply aren’t mature enough to turn to consulting firms just yet.
In short, don’t forget emerging entrepreneurs. They are potential clients. They are potential strategic partners. They are also potential competitors. They are potentially powerful people, and they’re watching you too.